Deep Dive: Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu Vs. Ben Wilhelm
Both men will seek to enforce their own agendas, but they will also meet stern resistance as they aim for a boost up the pecking order in one of the organization’s most stacked divisions.
Take a look at Tsogookhuu’s and Wilhelm’s contrasting skill sets ahead of Friday’s explosive tilt.
Tsogookhuu’s High Kicks
The most eye-catching strikes in Tsogookhuu’s arsenal are his lightning-fast high kicks, which stem from his days in karate.
“Spear” chains his right straight kick behind his right cross when opponents are less likely to anticipate it, and he employs the same tactic with his jab and left kick.
The Mongolian also uses subterfuge to distract his foes and take their focus away from guarding their heads. He achieves this by slipping and looking low to force their hands to drop, which opens up a route upstairs.
Wilhelm’s Punching Salvos
Wilhelm’s stand-up strategy is pretty simple — wade in with heavy punches until there is no space left. And he won’t change that style against Tsogookhuu.
The Hawaiian bites down on his mouthpiece and launches looping shots at his opponents until they’re either backed up to the cage or he can pull them into a clinch, preferably dazed from the onslaught.
Overhands and hooks are the order of the day, and that forward momentum is hard to stop, especially when each strike is thrown with such conviction.
Tsogookhuu’s striking is much different, and he will not get drawn into a firefight with the 31-year-old American.
Instead, the Mongolian National Boxing Bronze Medalist will work behind his assertive jab as a way to halt Wilhelm in his tracks whenever he tries to swarm in.
If “Spear” can catch his rival coming forward, expect him to unload combinations that make the most of it. And if the jab doesn’t stop his foe, Tsogookhuu also has a strong left hook that he throws as he steps back — perfect for a lunging attacker.
The 30-year-old will do everything he can to keep Wilhelm at bay and give himself more chances to capitalize with longer-range attacks.
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Wilhelm’s Judo Mastery
Keeping Wilhelm off is a great idea in theory, but doing so in practice is another thing altogether – and after the Gracie Technics representative gets ahold of somebody, there’s a whole new set of problems to navigate.
Wilhelm likes to throw knees once he enters close quarters, but he then focuses on getting the fight to the ground.
The black belt judoka has a strong upper-body clinch, which he converts into hip throws that make his opponents meet the canvas at speed. And if he can’t get to the hips, he can also utilize trips and sweeps to get on top.
The key piece of the puzzle for the Ulaanbaatar native is not necessarily a specific technique, but instead his patient approach to building a lead and the composure he’s gained from years in different striking arts.
Tsogookhuu rarely feels compelled to get drawn in, and he will happily stay on the outside and wait for the right opportunities.
Against an opponent as aggressive as Wilhelm, this patience could be the difference between avoiding the American’s clubbing shots and staying out of his grasp, or getting clipped, gripped, and thrown.
Wilhelm’s Favorite Finish
Though Wilhelm clearly has assets in every range, he truly excels on the ground.
He is 5-0 in his professional mixed martial arts career to date, with all five wins coming by way of submission — including four in a row via rear-naked choke in the first round.
Just like in his stand-up game, Wilhelm is aggressive with his ground strikes, often forcing his rival to turn and give up their back.
And if the American gets anywhere near the neck, he is clinical, with few opponents able to fend off his chokes.
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